How to lead with soul?


A soulful leader is a good listener, even when someone else contradicts his views. He spends more time listening than talking in order to understand the other person’s model of the world. This helps to give those around him the feeling of being heard and recognized.


Empathy teaches us to go beyond the surface, to touch other people’s soul, to understand one’s feelings. How we feel colours our perception of what we see and hear. It’s important for a leader to understand those feelings so that he can respond and manage them appropriately.


Authentic leaders embody their true selves into their leadership role. Their values, beliefs, principles and morals being their own ‘guiding compass’ in the job. Research has proven that when we live authentically we create an inner calm that is sensed by others. Authenticity allows us to apply our potential by freeing up energy from the stress of pretending. Leaders who are authentic are attractive to others. They relax the people they work with because the need to be on guard lessens.

Doing the right thing

Soulful leaders are committed to the highest ethics. They want to treat everyone with respect and build relationships on openness and trust. Where this behaviour really counts is in the day-to-day interactions with co-workers and customers. These values have to be lived out every day. They are critical to creating an ethical organization environment.


Empowerment is all about people feeling supported in doing their best work. The more a leader empowers others and creates the environment in which people can succeed, the more likely it is they will experience personal growth and success. Trust and a feeling of safety are key here. People need to be able to put themselves forward, take risks, speak freely and represent change without fear of judgment. Soulful leadership is not about solving all of the team’s problems, it’s about fostering the capability and belief that others can and should do that for themselves.


In today’s unprecedented level of change and stress, a leader’s values come into sharp focus. People look to them for guidance and comfort. Values as humanity, compassion and humility are fully front and center now. Soulful leaders communicate and show themselves as human beings and encourage their team members to do the same. They are connecting at a personal level to respond to employees’ needs. Their compassion and understanding lead them to address people’s concerns honestly and fully.


Soulful leaders are continually committed to their own learning in order to understand themselves as a person and how they and others see the world. Deep self-awareness is the foundation here. It’s a lifelong journey of learning of experiences and being able to share these along the way.  They resonate with others by telling stories of success and defeat, good times and tough times and of accomplishments and setbacks. Truly knowing their values – who they are, what they believe in, what’s the right thing to do – for the right reason, is often all a soulful leader has to help them navigate in uncertain times.


Soulful leaders are primarily motivated by doing good, by creating happiness. They have a clear vision of what they want to improve in the world, and rather than just maximizing shareholder value they want to create more happiness for themselves, their people, their customers and their community. They lead in a way that is sustainable – not just environmentally but also economically and psychologically. Soulful leaders are happier themselves because they know that their leadership is making things better. Happy leaders create better results for their organization because happiness has a long list of positive effects on the bottom line.


Leading with impact means focussing on people around you, not on yourself. Soulful leaders are not arrogant, they are humble. They will not repel when their authority is questioned but welcome the question with an open mind. They exhibit self-awareness on how they impact those around them. They always walk the talk and take less of their share of the credit. They don’t micro-manage but involve the wisdom of others. They are focused, engaged and enthusiastic and they naturally inspire those around them by providing consistent praise and positive feedback.


Passion connects us with our hearts and our love of our work as well as the people we lead and those we serve. It is a profound feeling for something that is deeply and personally meaningful. It is about mission, vision and values. Passion creates energy, excitement and enthusiasm and it encourages everyone on the team to rise to their full potential and achieve a level of performance not possible without it. Passion allows soulful leaders to make a difference.


A leader who thinks, acts and behaves in a soulful manner inspires others to do the same. The human approach of a soulful leader changes the way people grow, collaborate and feel empowered. Let this be a solid basis for future proof organizations.